Cheese 101: Bonne Bouche

Bonne Bouche

I have a favor to ask. Please, right this very second, go to your local cheese shop and ask for Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche. This little puck of goaty love has become one of my most favorite things in the world, and I want nothing more than for you to fall in love with it also.

Bonne Bouche is a whimsical, intriguing goat cheese. Creamy, rich, buttery, salty, mushroomy, peppery, sour… the list goes on and on. It seems that every person who tastes it takes away something different. My first impression of Bonne Bouche goat cheese was big on salt and funk, but my friend, who sampled the very same cheese right alongside of me, sensed more of a mushroomy impact followed by an assertive sour note. A second tasting revealed a distinct layer of cured bacon, and a third had me swearing I tasted a quick smack of crème fraîche. Bonne Bouche is all of these things, and that’s what makes it such a winner.

This diminutive ash-ripened cheese sits nestled in a darling wooden crate, which gives it a little support during packing and shipping. Bonne Bouche is incredibly runny and should be purchased only when it has lazily relaxed across the entire expanse of said crate, and without the structure of the box, there’s no way this cheese could ship outside of a sealed plastic container (which would prevent the cheese from ripening…and smelling up your refrigerator).

Aged for only 10 days before it leaves the creamery in Vermont, Bonne Bouche reaches perfect ripeness somewhere between 8 and 15 days after that. The inside of the cheese should be entirely smooth and buttery, so if you’ve got an under ripe specimen that is still resistant to the poke of a finger, allow the cheese to ripen in your refrigerator until it relaxes to the point that it nearly melts into its little crate. Then bring it to room temperature, set it on a plate, and allow Bonne Bouche to spread its creamy finger as far and wide as it likes. When you’re done, control your urge to lick the plate. Or don’t. I won’t judge.

Valentine’s Day Cheese: A Cheese Plate Made for Two

Valentines Day Cheese Plate

- Three Valentine’s Day cheeses worth gifting -

Most folks don’t think of cheese when it comes to Valentine’s Day surprises, but I can’t think of a more delicious gift for your best boy or girl. Cheese is thoughtful, it’s fun, and it’s more unique than a typical box of chocolates. A well-thought-out cheese plate says so many things. To a true cheese lover, it says, “You’re awesome enough to warrant something really special.” [Read more…]

Summertime Macaroni Salad with Chèvre and Grilled Peaches

Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese on http://www.theculinarylife.com

- ‘Tis the season for grilled peaches, fresh goat cheese, and incredible macaroni salad. -

When I was writing Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I had to relearn almost everything I thought I knew about flavor. Cooking with cheese is a unique experience, and when you’re working with artisan cheese, it’s important to take the cheese’s personality into consideration when picking herbs, spices, or other additional flavors for a dish. You certainly don’t want to drown out the flavor of the cheese, given it’s probably your intended star of the show! There was a lot of trial and error in recipe testing for the book, making sure I had a deep understanding of what spices paired well with cheeses made from a variety of different milks.

It turns out cheese and spice go hand in hand like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but only if you let the cheese lead. What I learned is to look at the flavor profile of the cheese (is it nutty? grassy? sweet? salty? funky?) and then consider what spices you would pair with these flavors on their own.

I’ve got some great spice and cheese pairings in Melt, such as Petit Basque, a sweet, nutty sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region of France, which I coupled up with herby sage for a lovely floral-tinged experience. I’ve also got Humboldt Fog, a luscious goat’s milk cheese, paired with mint and parsley for an incredibly refreshing swath of flavor across your palate. Talk about happy flavor memories!

Speaking of happy flavors, what could be nicer than a blushing peach? The sun-kissed color, the ticklish feel of the fuzz, the sweet-as-sugar cane flavor. With grilled peaches, the flavors soars to a whole new level. This simple macaroni salad lets them shine–and without the nuisance of peach juice dribbling down your arm. Summer in a bowl, this is.

And if there is any cheese that pairs best with a peach, it’s Humboldt Fog. This humble–yet multi-award winning–specimen has become the herald for American-made artisan cheeses and shows up on nearly every cheese plate in the country, and with good reason. Crafted by Cypress Grove in Humboldt County, California, this goat milk cheese possesses plenty of flavor. Beneath its bloomy rind and runny sole lies a chalky, intoxicating paste that guards the savory core. A line of decorative vegetable ash runs through the middle, which gives it its distinct layer cake appearance.

This recipe appeared in Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, along with 74 other inspired cheese and pasta dishes. I do hope you’ll check it out.
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Super Simple Series: 5-minute Homemade Cottage Cheese Recipe

Super Simple Series: 5-minute Homemade Cottage Cheese Recipe on http://www.theculinarylife.com

- After making blueberry pecan buttermilk pancakes, try this homemade cottage cheese recipe with the leftovers. -

This post kicks off an ongoing series I’m starting to highlight amazingly easy recipes that maximize your time in the kitchen. Because I’m overly fond of alliteration, I’m dubbing it the Super Simple Series. I’ll be sharing a bunch of things – from DIY projects to whole dishes – and every last one of them will take almost no work. Amen to that! To start the series, I’ve got something really interesting that will come in handy when you’re awash in extra buttermilk over the holiday season (or any other time of year).

Ever wondered what to do with all the leftover buttermilk after you make pancakes? Or biscuits? Or a cake/pie/whathaveyou? Buttermilk isn’t cheap and no one likes to waste food. The best trick I’ve found is to turn it into cottage cheese.

Yes, you read that right. You can make cottage cheese out of leftover buttermilk. And it requires no other ingredients. Huzzah! [Read more…]

Chicken Pasta Salad with Feta, Kalamata Olives, and Balsamic Vinaigrette (semi-sponsored post)

Chicken Pasta Salad with Feta, Lindsay Olives, and Balsamic Vinaigrette on http://www.theculinarylife.com/2014/chicken-pasta-salad-with-feta-lindsay-olives-and-balsamic-vinaigrette/

- My olive-averse boyfriend LOVES this chicken pasta salad. Yay. -

It’s time for my yearly cold picnic salad recipe. I don’t post these kinds of dishes very often because I’m not generally a fan, but when I develop a good one, I sing it far and wide. This chicken pasta salad with feta cheese and Kalamata olives is one such winner. Not only do I love it, but so does my boyfriend – and he’s about as anti-olive as they come. So that’s a winning endorsement if I

Someday I would like to visit Greece. I’m captivated by all I’ve read about its culture, its history, and of course, its food! Until I’m able to cross the pond, I’ll have to settle for a culinary staycation while nibbling on all the lovely things I’ll likely stuff myself stupid with when I finally set foot on Greek soil. Namely dolmas, souvlaki, fresh feta, and my favorite single-bite snack ever: Kalamata olives.

Am I the only one who has a hard time keeping my fingers out of the olive bar at Whole Foods? I wouldn’t dare eat out of the tubs, but once they’re in my little plastic container, well………. all bets are off.

Don’t judge. [Read more…]

Crunchy Southern Cauliflower Casserole

Crunchy Southern Cauliflower Casserole on http://www.theculinarylife.com

I’m total a sucker for anything involving a cheesy sauce. And while pasta may be an ideal receptacle, sometimes you have to cut back on your carb intake. What’s a girl to do when she’s already eaten her weight in wheat this week? Turn to the next best thing: cauliflower.

Cauliflower is a great vegetable because its starchiness mimics carb-y foods that we love but shouldn’t eat so much of: namely, pasta and potatoes. In fact, I’d argue that you can substitute cauliflower in 75% of pasta and potato dishes. Have you ever tried buttered mashed cauliflower? Cauliflower with pesto sauce? Or baked, cheesy cauliflower casserole? Turns out cauliflower is an ideal delivery device for all sorts of comforting ingredients, like butter, meat sauce, and of course, cheese.

This dish is lovely for many reasons, including its cream and cheese content, but what I love most about this recipe is that it provides a huge helping of comforting richness while still getting in a mega-serving of vegetables. You could just as easily make this dish with macaroni, but cauliflower allows you to skip the pesky food-coma that sets in after indulging. Then there’s the toasty, crunchy topping, which I adore on a cold winter night; it really makes the dish, so don’t skip bread crumbs. In fact, trying using your own homemade breadcrumbs for an even homier effect.

Southern breaded cauliflower is cheesy and creamy, with a few spices added to make things interesting. If you like, you can leave out the nutmeg and cumin, but they really do take the dish from standard to sensational. You could even add a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon if you like to amp up the sweetness, or a few pinches of cayenne to up the spice.

Tell me in the comments: What are your favorite ways to cut back on carbs but still enjoy the foods you love most? Do you have a favorite tip on how to make your favorite comfort foods healthier? Let me know in the comments!

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Playing Around in Photoshop – Cheese Photography